The Ventnor Method

Discover how and why Ventnor Botanic Garden takes an alternative direction to traditional gardening.

By Ventnor Botanic Garden

Bird of ParadiseVentnor Botanic Garden

As a modern botanic garden, VBG has developed a style of planting more relevant to a society coming to grips with its impact on the earth.

By selecting plants whose genetic programming suits our unique microclimate, we require less water, less energy and less labour to preserve the 6,000 accessions in our Living Collections. We call our approach The Ventnor Method.

Echium CandicansVentnor Botanic Garden

As a modern botanic garden we aim to show a style of gardening that is both aesthetically pleasing and relevant. We have taken cues from the natural world where gardeners are absent entirely and the genes of the plants determine survival in the environment they evolved within.

Magnolia in flowerVentnor Botanic Garden

We present plants in association with each other as they would be in the wild. At first glance, the garden might seem untidy, but our plant collection is left to thrive naturally for a reason.

CameliaVentnor Botanic Garden

In nature, plants exist in self-maintaining communities that often have highly appreciable aesthetic merit while making a wonderful habitat for small birds and mammals, providing both shelter and a source of food.

Sparmannia AfricanaVentnor Botanic Garden

We have simulated this in cultivation, and have allowed plant communities to develop and self-regulate naturally.

Mediterranean Garden PathVentnor Botanic Garden

These synthetic ecosystems, left reasonably unperturbed by our gardeners and volunteers, attract their companion organisms such as parasites, fungi, and rusts that would be most unwelcome in many pristine glasshouses. 

Prostanthera RotundifoliaVentnor Botanic Garden

To us this method offers a more sustainable plant conservation technique - rather in an ecosystem than all alone on a bench in a glasshouse. The Ventnor Method can be deployed in any climate, garden or setting around the world using the principles we have developed here.

Palm GardenVentnor Botanic Garden

Presenting a garden using the Ventnor Method allows many of the principles of the minimalist garden like low maintenance and low water use to be achieved with a more natural or wild display of plants which encourages and nurtures local biodiversity.

Red FlowerVentnor Botanic Garden

It seeks to minimise typical garden inputs like pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers while recycling its outputs from rainwater to garden waste. New volunteers have to be reminded not to pick up leaf litter or remove dead fronds and plants.

Lampranthus & AloeVentnor Botanic Garden

We note that this innovative laissez-faire style of gardening can be beneficial to our lazier gardeners who enthusiastically embrace the Ventnor Method and seem delighted to leave the plants, weeds and leaf litter completely unperturbed by their efforts. 

Salvia QuaraniticaVentnor Botanic Garden

Much leaf litter is phytotoxic, suppressing the weeds or invading plants that threaten the host tree or shrub. Those plants that can survive in the leaf litter are often beneficial to the host in ways we have yet to fully understand. 

Mediterranean GardenVentnor Botanic Garden

We hope you will remark, “How innovative…” when you understand our Method, not “What a mess…” when you see a natural array of plants living in association with each other.

CactiVentnor Botanic Garden

Our best example of the Ventnor Method in action is our earliest testing ground, the Mediterranean Garden. 

Aloe PolyVentnor Botanic Garden

The Ventnor microclimate is very similar to the climate of the Old World Mediterranean which surrounds the Mediterranean basin and includes the Middle East and Northern Africa.

Puya PlantVentnor Botanic Garden

 We chose annuals, biennials and perennials from that part of the world with different habits and planted them within a skeletal framework of slower growing shrubs and trees. As these grew we allowed these artificial communities to develop naturally.

ButterflyVentnor Botanic Garden

The Ventnor Method and the synthetic ecosystems that develop allow the habitats at VBG to fill in, to host the wasps, ants and bees migrating into England from the south due to a changing climate and globalisation.

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